Women celebrate being in the driver’s seat
Few issues have been as polarising in the conservative Islamic kingdom as the prohibition on female drivers, which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vowed to end as a key part of his plan to open up the kingdom’s oildependent economy and loosen social restrictions.
The government has been keen to promote the end of the ban as a sign that women’s rights are advancing after decades of international criticism, even after several of the country’s most prominent women’s rights activists were arrested last month in a national security-related case.
They included some women who have fought for years to be able to drive.
Many Saudis breathed a sigh of relief when the government announced in September that it would end the driving ban.
Others have quietly opposed the move, arguing that allowing women to drive violates local customs and could lead society down the path to sin.
‘‘My heart is pumping,’’ one woman said after starting her engine, suddenly overtaken by nerves.
‘‘You’re going to do great!’’ a passenger shouted from the back seat.
Then she drove off, music floating from the open windows as a chorus of women cheered her on. – Bloomberg